About the OTOP
The OTOP sub-region is bordered by the Rangitata River in the north and the Lyalldale Creek in the south, the Pacific Ocean to the east and Main Divide in the west (See Map). Within the OTOP sub-region are the Orari, Temuka, Opihi, Opuha, Te Ana Wai and Pareora Rivers and associated tributaries. Other notable geographical features within the OTOP sub-region include Lake Opuha and the Opuha Dam.
There are three distinct groundwater areas in the OTOP sub-region, the inland basins, the coastal plains and the downlands. The quality of groundwater is influenced by geology, depth, land use and recharge sources. In those areas where groundwater recharge is dominated by drainage from the soil (as opposed to from river sources), excess nitrates can be carried into groundwater.
Submissions on PC7 opened on 20 July 2019 and close on 13 September.
Where to get help
Key changes under Proposed Plan Change 7 for OTOP
Reducing nitrogen losses
PC7 establishes High Nitrogen Concentration Areas (HNCAs) in the Rangitata Orton, Fairlie Basin and Levels Plains areas. Within HNCAs there is a requirement for farming activities to further reduce nitrogen losses beyond Baseline GMP Loss Rates (determined by the farm portal) to assist with achieving water quality targets for ecosystem health and drinking water outcomes. The following nitrogen loss reductions would apply for dairy farming under the proposed plan change:
- All farms meet baseline Good Management Practice (bGMP) by 2020
- In the Rangitata Orton, Fairlie Basin and Levels Plains areas reduce nitrogen loss by 10% (for dairying) and 5% (other farming activities) beyond bGMP by 2030
- In Rangitata-Orton and Levels Plains reduce nitrogen loss by 20% beyond bGMP by 2035
High Nitrogen Concentration Area tagged Reductions
Outside the High Nitrogen Concentration Areas, farmers are required to carry out actions to manage run-off and sediment from their farms
Further detail on the proposed plan change can be found here.
Surface water quality
Reports show the current state surface water quality within the sub-region:
- Upper reaches of the catchments generally being in a healthy state, with low bacterial and nutrient levels, low levels of nuisance periphyton or cyanobacterial cover and healthy invertebrate communities.
- Nuisance levels of periphyton biomass and cyanobacterial blooms being common in mid to low reaches of many hill-fed rivers, affecting recreational and amenity values as well as affecting ecological and fishery values.
- Flows being a critical driver of ecosystem health, recreation and amenity values in hill fed rivers.
Key localised surface water quality issues within the sub-region include:
- Generally, spring fed streams in the sub-region are in a poorer state than hill-fed rivers.
- Spring-fed streams of the northern Orari River exceed the NPSFM* National Bottom Line for nitrate toxicity.
- Waitarakao/Washdyke Lagoon has high mahinga kai values and is recognised as a regionally important wildlife refuge. Concentrations of nutrients (total phosphorous and total nitrogen) and E.coli in the lagoon exceed NPSFM National Bottom Lines for respective contaminants.
- The Ring and Seadown Drains exceed the NPSFM National Bottom Line for nitrate toxicity.
*NPSFM- National policy statement for freshwater management
Flows and allocation
New environmental flow and allocation regimes have been proposed for parts of the OTOP sub-region. Higher minimum are proposed to be introduced over time, which would ensure more water is retained in the river to provide for ecosystem values. It is anticipated new the inclusion of higher minimum flows for rivers and additional restrictions on farming activities may help reduce algal blooms in rivers. An increase to minimum flows would reduce the reliability of water for abstractors. However, the introduction of new minimum flows have been staged, allowing time for irrigators and industry to adapt to proposed changes.
The changes proposed in PC7 for water takes include:
- The establishment of environmental flow and allocation regimes on the North and South Opuha, Upper Opihi and Te Ana Wai rivers, which include increased minimum flows and capped allocation limits;
- The establishment of an alternative management regime for the Opihi mainstem with alternative minimum flow levels which respond to drying climatic conditions; An alternative regime is proposed to manage releases of water from the Opuha Dam. Allocation of freshwater has been capped at current rates and partial restrictions are proposed to prevent minimum flows for the river from being breached.
- Within the Temuka area, an increase in the minimum flow, reduction in the allocation limit, setting of pro-rata partial restrictions, and the reservation of water for mahinga kai purposes; The water in the Temuka area is over-allocated and experiences high abstractive pressure. A range of flow and allocation regime is proposed with prohibitions on the transfer of water, increases to minimum flows for the Temuka River and its tributaries, and phasing out of over-allocation through reductions in allocation limits over time (at 3, 5 and 8 year intervals).
New region wide rules under PC7 are proposed:
- Prohibit farmed cattle, deer or pigs from disturbing or using the bed of lakes, rivers or permanently or intermittently flowing open drain within specified distance of sensitive areas such as intakes for community drinking water supplies, or indigenous freshwater species habitat.
- Prohibit farmed cattle, deer or pigs from disturbing or using the bed and banks of spring-fed plains rivers.
- Require consent, as a non-complying activity, for the use and disturbance of the bed and banks of lakes, rivers that are greater than 1m wide or 100m deep, or a wetland, by intensively farmed stock. Intensively farmed stock is defined in the CLWRP as cattle or deer grazed on irrigated land or contained for break-feeding of winter feed crops; dairy cattle, including cows, whether dry or milking, and whether on irrigated land or not; or farmed pigs.
- Permit stock to use the beds of lakes, rivers or wetlands for temporary or permanent access provided the access meets standards relating to water quality and physical disturbance of the bed or banks, and provided the activity is not classified as non-complying or prohibited.
Tangata Whenua and mahinga kai
Freshwater quality and quantity within the Orari-Temuka-Opihi-Pareora sub-region provides for the abundance of freshwater mahinga kai that are safe to gather, harvest and consume or use by:
- freshwater quality achieving the freshwater limits and targets;
- improving flows in hill-fed and spring-fed rivers;
- reserving an allocation of water from the Temuka Freshwater Management Unit, for the enhancement of mahinga kai and associated tangata whenua values;
- requiring all farming activities which include winter grazing or irrigation and that include or directly adjoin a surface water body within the Mātaitai Protection Zone, to operate at Good Management Practice and prepare and implement an audited Farm Environment Plan in accordance with Schedule 7.
- Protect wāhi tapu, wāhi taonga and nohoanga in the Orari-Temuka-Opihi-Pareora sub region by avoiding as a first priority adverse effects on these sites, and where avoidance is impracticable, requiring adverse effects on wāhi tapu, wāhi taonga and nohoanga to be minimised.
- Ngāi Tahu values associated with tuhituhi neherā (rock art) and waipuna (springs) and freshwater mātaitai in the Orari-Temuka-Opihi-Pareora sub-region are protected by: a. defining a Rock Art Management Area and a Mātaitai Protection Zone; and b. requiring, for any application to use land for a farming activity, to take and use water, or to discharge contaminants, an assessment of the
- actual and potential effects of the proposal on springs, freshwater mātaitai and/or rock art;
- the implementation of actions or methods to avoid or minimise adverse effects.
For further information contact:
Catchment Engagement Leader
How to give feedback
DairyNZ will be submitting on PC7. We welcome your feedback on the plan change to help inform the DairyNZ submission. We encourage you to share your views. Please send any feedback through to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Charlotte on 021 986 783.
Feedback can also be provided directly to ECan via the proposed plan change ePlan portal.
You will need to register with ePlan by following the instructions in the portal.
Alternatively, feedback can be sent directly to ECan via email to email@example.com or via post to Environment Canterbury for the attention of Tavisha Fernando, PO Box 345, Christchurch 8140.
Drop in day
A drop-in day is planned for 14 August to inform farmers about proposed Plan Change 7 rules, and help farmers prepare submissions.